Eight deaths in Norfolk’s 400 house fires last year, figures show

Firefighters tackle a blaze at flats off Princes Street in Norwich.

Firefighters tackle a blaze at flats off Princes Street in Norwich. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Firefighters in Norfolk were called to the lowest number of house fires in a decade despite the pandemic meaning people spent more time at home, new figures have revealed.

Norfolk Fire and Rescue attended 1,928 fires in the year up to June 2021, a 16pc decrease on the previous year, Home Office data shows.

Crews tackled 399 blazes that broke out in residential dwellings, down from 454 in 2019/20 and the lowest in the last 10 years.  

Greg Preston

Greg Preston, Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service head of protection, prevention and emergency planning. - Credit: Archant

Greg Preston, head of protection, prevention and emergency planning, said: “We welcome the reduction of fire incidents in Norfolk.

"This is down to a combination of factors, including effective prevention work by our teams and increased vigilance and awareness by residents and businesses on how to reduce risk.

“We also know that during the Covid-19 pandemic, people have taken extra care to remain safe.” 

However, despite fewer fires, out of nine fire-related fatalities eight were people who died in domestic blazes, double the number in the previous 12 months.

Among them was Gary Hunt, 59, who died in the fire at a bungalow in Langley Walk in Norwich in February and Samantha Ford, 53, who died after a blaze broke out inside her home in Downham Market in July last year.

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture:

Emergency services on the scene of a fatal house fire on Retreat Estate in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

An inquest heard the fire that killed Mrs Ford was probably caused by a lit cigarette being dropped onto a chair.

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Mr Preston said: “The single biggest thing residents can do to help reduce fire risk to themselves and their family is to have working smoke alarms within the home. 

“These mean you are far less likely to die in a house fire, as they give you early warning and provide vital seconds to escape.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service carried out a training exercise at Bungay Staithe on September 21.

Fire crews were called to 7,480 incidents of which just 1,928 were fires. - Credit: Andrew Atterwill

The figures show that fires made up just a quarter of firefighter call-outs which also included 518 road traffic collisions, a 12pc fall on the previous year amid a reduction in traffic levels during lockdown. 

However there was a 33pc increase - to 1,383 - of 'collaborating incidents' where firefighters assist other agencies, help gain access or help deal with those at risk of suicide.

They also dealt with 436 flooding incidents, more than three times as many as the previous year, after the county saw severe floods in December and January. 

There were 2,331 call-outs that proved to be false alarms, 58 of which were hoaxes.


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